Living In Fear

I’m starting to realize that I’ve been living in Fear my whole life. Actually, it is something I have always known, but the (non)events of my marriage have brought it home to me. Now it has really sunk home to me in a new way.

I came to the realization like this. I’ve been considering whether to try and push on in the hopes that our love life will improve or to start the trek towards a divorce. But there are a number of practical issues in the way. My wife is from a different country to the one we live in now. So in the event of a divorce, she would take our daughter home and I would only be able to see her once a year or so. And I am under no illusions that 9000km would mean I am no longer my daughter’s dad. It just isn’t feasible to provide love and leadership over that kind of distance.

The “solution” would be for me to give up my job here, go along with them and try and start a new, divorced life in a new country, a new language, a new job. I teach at a university in a small town and in the time left over I do research, which is what motivates me. I love my career and I don’t want to give it up. But permanent academic jobs are very hard to find in Europe. So going to stay there would mean:
(a) Having temporary jobs in my chosen career
(b) Starting a new career fairly low down the ladder (not speaking the language well enough certainly limits the options!).
(c) Consequently, losing the “stability” that a permanent, well-paying job gives me and my family.

And then it struck me. I’m scared. I’ve always been scared. I took this job (even though it is out of the way), not because I wanted to be HERE but because I wanted a permanent job to escape the insecurity of contract work. I put up with the horrible parts of my job, like administration, marking, supervising other people’s cast-offs etc for the same reason. If I’m honest, I don’t even get enough time to do the research that I yearn to do. So why do I stay? Why do I tell myself I love my job? Because I’m terrified of the alternatives.

Looking back, I probably chose my career as an academic in part because I was scared to face the “real” world. (Actually, I had experienced the 9-to-5 world and, frankly, it sucked. Teaching at university offered much more flexibility to pursue my passion for my research).

And the prospect of divorce scares me. I’m terrible at dating. I have always been **** scared of approaching a woman I found attractive. So I didn’t do much dating when I was younger. So life has always been a bit lonely from my perspective. And marriage was supposed to be my ticket to never dating again. Never having to experience that gut-wrenching fear of taking a risk. Never having to wonder where the next shag was coming from. So l got married, in part, out of fear. Of course there were other reasons (like I loved my wife, we got on well, the sex was wonderful etc... in short, all the usual reasons). But fear was part of it.

The irony is that every single one of my hang-ups – every single thing I thought marriage would solve – has come back to haunt me. I am more lonely in marriage than I ever was before. I had more sex, and more satisfying love-making when I was not married. The breakup of my marriage brings up the prospect of having to date again – of facing those fears of inadequacy. It highlights the possibility of having to choose another career. In short, my fears have come back and bitten me on the ***.

Then last night, I was sitting watching the stars over a late-night cigarette and a cup of coffee. And it struck me. What if I just let it all go? Could I even just let it go? What if I just jumped into the unknown. What would happen?

The truth is that I have no idea. But at least I would be facing those fears head on. And I would be a man again.
quink quink
36-40, M
4 Responses Jul 10, 2010

It's been a while since I wrote this. Since then, I've divorced, moved on. Reading this, I can hardly believe that I once wrote it. <br />
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To anybody else out there living in fear, scared of the alternatives, scared of losing what little you have... Make the change. It's worth it. <br />
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:)<br />
Quink

Hey, Quink! So glad you came back for an update!! Will you hang out for a little while and spread the good news?? Newbies need role models!!

Yes I will, maryryan! That's why I'm here! EP and the people in this group changed the way I saw the world and gave me the courage to move on. I'd love to give back.

Great to know you have moved on to a happier future and great to see you back. Welcome! Please stick around!!

Thanks Maryryan and Yemanya for the reality check.<br />
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You are both right. I won't make any rash decisions and yes, I do tend to work things out in my head on assumptions that are waaaaaaaaaaaay too pessimistic. :-) I actually phoned my wife last night (she has taken our daughter to visit the grandparents for a few weeks) and chatted about it. Strange, but we seem to communicate better when we are apart! At first she didn't want to "speak about it on the phone" though. I said I was willing to make compromises (but not at any cost) on the career front so we can at least explore the other possibilities out there. <br />
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Unfortunately, with cross border relationships, the rules are not all that clear since no court can compell somebody in a different country to recognize its decisions. So my wife and I must work out a private settlement between us. At least we both recognize that point and she wants me to stay involved.<br />
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I guess that my serendipitous moment arrived after I'd been dwelling on the technical aspects so long. Suddenly, there was a moment of joy, a momentary parting of the clouds of logic and pessimism. It is so hard to put it in words though. <br />
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thanks again<br />
Mark

Welcome Quink ...<br />
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You seem to be working from some pretty strong assumptions, like if you and your wife can't work it out your children will be 9,000 miles away. How about if you and your W talk about things not working well in the marriage, and state the importance of being a present, involved Dad. Then explore the options. I don't know the rules, but maybe if you 'separate', she can stay. And, btw, as a Dad you do have rights. Its confusing, yes, but there are always more options out there than first come to mind. Stay open, stay present and stay strong. Best of luck. - Y

Hey Quink: I really feel for you. I had someone give a career-oriented lecture to my students recently and he said that "as you get older, life becomes complex in ways that you can't even begin to understand yet". <br />
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Don't make any fast moves. Hang here with us: Read, write, ask questons, participate. You will figure out the best solution for you, if you work at doing so...